An open letter to Creative Scotland

An open letter to Creative Scotland

Fire Exit has received a 100% cut in funding from Creative Scotland and will face potential closure in April 2019.

We are deeply perturbed by this decision - the company has never been in better shape. We tour multi-award-winning contemporary, experimental theatre all over Scotland from the Borders to the Highlands and Islands. 90% of our audience rate the shows as excellent or very good (i). We’ve toured internationally across four continents, in four languages for over a decade. 81% of our press reviews are 4 or 5 stars. Reviewers describe our artistic director David Leddy as a ‘genius’, ‘institution’, ‘maverick’, ‘iconoclast’, ‘star’, ‘master’ and ‘leading theatrical innovator’.

We tour on both middle and small scales to nearly half of all Scottish local authority areas. Our partners include the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Tron Theatre, Take Me Somewhere, Royal Shakespeare Company, The British Museum, Anne Bogart’s SITI Company in New York, Theatre Replacement in Vancouver and Sponsored by Nobody in NYC. Managerially we are in exemplary condition, in 17 years we’ve never gone one penny into deficit. All of the above has been achieved with only two full time members of staff.

Additionally, we run 5 creative learning strands that support our colleagues in the sector. In the last 2 years alone, we have given 70 hours of mentoring and advice to 45 people. 96% of mentees who completed feedback rated our support as excellent (ii). We give free office space to other companies. Our Pyromania year-long mentoring programme pays £1000 to playwriting mentees. David Leddy is an in-kind Associate Director at the Tron theatre giving support to emerging artists. For the wider world we publish books with educational content and commission articles from leading journalists that are read online by thousands of people (iii).

We are deeply concerned about Creative Scotland’s decision-making process that led to this outcome. In this funding round no advice has been taken from external peer review panels. Creative Scotland do not undertake any external, or internal, evaluations of artistic quality. We have been told that the final funding decisions were made by a senior management team who were not given sight of our funding application or business plan. Their decision was based on an internal report about which we also have grave concerns as it contained factual errors and profound misrepresentations of our company. Our application contained a wealth of evidence and statistics regarding our work, but the report made criticisms of our company that were unsubstantiated by evidence. In many instances the report ignored or misrepresented the facts and plans provided. It was written by a staff member who, as far as we’ve ever been told, has never seen our work. Three years ago, when we last applied for funding, we raised all the same concerns about the process with Creative Scotland but were told not to worry as our funding bid at that time had been successful.

Despite these errors, the report rated our work highly and recommended us for funding, but senior management chose to not fund us because ‘the Theatre RFO network should focus organisations [sic] which support and develop the wider sector’. This sentence remains the only explanation we have received; and prior to this decision Creative Scotland has never given us any indication at all that they are unhappy with our work, and the feedback from our lead officer has always been excellent.

Creative Scotland now intends for us to apply to a new project fund which has not yet been designed. However, we develop our projects, partners and tours many years in advance and project funding would make this impossible. When we were project funded in the past, artistic director David Leddy worked full-time for twelve months of the year running Fire Exit but was only paid for two months of that time. Project funding is completely untenable now for a company of our nature.

This is a devastating decision for Fire Exit and the many artists we support, work with and nurture. Creative Scotland does not have an appeals procedure and we are not permitted to formally contest their funding decisions. Because of this we are reliant on the advocacy of our peers, and the ability that the Board of Creative Scotland has to overturn decisions, for any hope in the future.

We urge the Board of Creative Scotland to reconsider this decision.

Signed by the Fire Exit Board of Trustees:
Katrina Brown
Meadhbh Hendrie
Angus McCallum
Chitra Ramaswamy
John Scott Moncrieff
Katie Stuart

and the following signatories:
Liz Lochhead, Poet and Playwright
Rona Munro, Writer and Chair, Playwrights Studio Scotland
Louise Welsh, Writer
Eimear McBride, Writer
Stephen Greenhorn, Writer and Chair, Scottish Society of Playwrights
Kirstin Innes, Writer
Alan Bissett, Playwright and Author
Douglas Maxwell, Playwright
Jo Clifford, Writer and Performer
Oliver Emanuel, Playwright
Linda McLean, Playwright
Gary McNair, Writer, Director, Performer
Rob Drummond, Writer, Director, Performer
Johnny McKnight, Writer, Director, Performer
Julia (AJ) Taudevin, Writer and Performer
Clare Duffy, Playwright
Amy Conway, Playwright
Lisa Keddie, Playwright
Deb Jones, Playwright
Drew Taylor Wilson, Director and Playwright
Isabel Wright, Playwright
Linda Duncan McLaughlin, Playwright
James Ley, Playwright
Lesley Hart, Playwright and Performer
Tracey Emerson, The Bridge Awards
Susan Melville, The Bridge Awards
Mary Pattison, The Bridge Awards
Anne Bogart, Director, SITI Company, New York
Alejandra Szczepaniak, Arts Manager Chile, British Council
Kevin Doyle, Artistic Director, Sponsored by Nobody, New York
Kavita Chetty- Head of Strategy and Legal Scottish Human Rights Commission
Cora Bissett, Director, Actor, Musician
Rosie Kellagher, Literary Manager, National Theatre of Scotland
Chris Campbell, Literary Manager, Royal Court Theatre
Roland Gulliver, Associate Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival
Janet Smyth, Children's & Education Programme Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival
Vanessa Boyd, International Projects Officer, Festivals Edinburgh
Paul Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive, Imaginate
Fiona Sturgeon Shea, Creative Director, Playwrights Studio Scotland
Dominic Hill, Artistic Director, Citizens Theatre
Andy Arnold, Artistic Director, Tron Theatre
Viktoria Begg, Programme and Administration Manager, Dundee Rep Theatre
Liam Sinclair, Artistic Director, The Byre Theatre
Wendy Niblock, Director of Marketing and Communications, The Beacon
Juliette Lowe, Programmer, Ardross Hall
Petria Brooke-Carr, Programmer, Ardross Hall
Robert Softley Gale, Artistic Director, Birds of Paradise
Maria Oller, Artistic Director, Lung Ha Theatre Company
Gill Robertson, Artistic Director, Catherine Wheels
Dougie Irvine, Artistic Director, Visible Fictions
Laura Penny, Producer, Visible Fictions
Sophie Ochojna, Marketing and Development Manager, Visible Fictions
Rachel Edwards, Board Member, Visible Fictions
Angie Dight, Artistic Director, Mischief La-Bas
Jemima Levick, Artistic Director, Stellar Quines
Muireann Kelly, Artistic Director, Theatre Gu Leor
April Chamberlain, Co-Artistic Director, A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Natasha Gilmore, Artistic Director, Barrowland Ballet
Belinda McElhinney, Executive Producer, Barrowland Ballet
Jonathan Lloyd, Creative Director, Solar Bear
Ross McKay, Artistic Director, Tortoise in a Nutshell
Simon Hart, Artistic Director, Puppet Animation Scotland
Rupert Thomson, Artistic Director Eleven Theatre Company
Peter Renwick, Festival Programme Director, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival
Tim Licata, Artistic Director, Plutôt la Vie
Angie Dickinson, Area Artistic Manager, Neath Port Talbot Theatres
Mariem Omari, Artistic Director, Bijli
Ric Watts, Senior Producer, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Nick Sweeting,Producer, Improbable
Graeme Rose, Actor and Associate Artist, Stan's Cafe
Simon Wainwright, Co-Artistic Director, Imitating the Dog
Pete Brooks, Co-Artistic Director, Imitating the Dog
Andrew Quick Co-Artistic Director, Imitating the Dog
Morven Macbeth, Actor, Imitating The Dog
Maureen Beattie, Actor
Siobhán Redmond, Actor
Blythe Duff, Actor
Sean Biggerstaff, Actor
Phyllis Logan, Actor
Alison Peebles, Actor
Joanna Tope, Actor
Neshla Caplan, Actor
Irene Allan, Actor
Gabriel Quigley, Actor
Mark Jeary, Actor
Camille Marmie, Actor
Vari Sylvester, Actor
Robin Laing, Actor
Barrie Hunter, Actor
Scarlett Mack, Actor
Michele Gallagher, Actor
Nalini Chetty, Actor
Emma Hartley Morrison, Actor
Keith McPherson, Actor
Ros Sydney, Actor
Shona Reppe, Theatre Maker and Designer
Eilidh MacAskill, Live Artist
Mara Menzies, Storyteller
May Sumbanyambe, Associate lecturer
Jenna Watt ,Theatre-maker
Al Seed, Performer and Director
Sarah Rose Graber, Performer and Director
Victoria Beesley, Drama Artist
Neil Bartlett, Director
Muriel Romanes, Director
Ros Philips, Director
Fraser McLeod, Director
Laurie Sansom, Director
Naomi O Kelly, Director
Paul Brotherston, Director, Blood of the Young
Niall Black, Production Manager
Linsey Johnstone, Stage Manager
Gerald McDermott, Sound Technician
Becky Minto, Designer
Nich Smith, Lighting Designer
Danny Krass, Sound Designer
Ali Maclaurin, Set and Costume Designer
Heather Neavay , Painter
Minttumaari Mäntynen, Film maker
Kirsty Williams Radio, Drama Producer
Matt Burman, Producer & Programmer
Di Robson, Producer
Gillian Garrity, Producer
Severine Wyper, Executive Producer
Hannah Putsey, Producer
Louise Oliver, Actor and Producer
Sarah Gray, Producer
Callum Smith, Producer
Julie Brown, Producer
Ali de Souza, Acting Lecturer, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Claire Murray, Agent, Brennan Artists
Liz Smith, PR Consultant
Jane Hamilton, PR Consultant
Christine Hamilton, Arts Consultant

(i) Average from 468 surveys, covering the most recent 3 shows over the last 2 years.
(ii) Survey covers 71% of participants.
(iii)4,246 readers over the last 3 years.



Pyromania is a bursary programme created by Fire Exit to support playwrights based in Scotland to develop their skills in experimental writing. Designed for writers at any stage in their career, Pyromania aims to help create truly innovative text for contemporary theatre.

Each playwright selected will receive:

  • A £1000 cash bursary.

  • Between 6-8 mentoring meetings over the course of a year with David Leddy.

  • A rehearsed reading of the script at the end of year with a professional cast (scheduled to take place at Tron Theatre as part of Take Me Somewhere, May 2019).

Deadline for applications is 28th February 2018.

More information on Pyromania available here.

Pyromania is a Fire Exit programme with Tron Theatre and support from Playwrights’ Studio Scotland and Take Me Somewhere. Funded by The Bridge Awards and Creative Scotland.

The Last Bordello



A sweet young terrorist must lose his virginity tonight.
But will he get out of the brothel alive?

There’s one bordello left in a brutal warzone and inside the atmosphere’s like an X-rated mad hatter’s tea party. The bastard child of Margaret Atwood and David Lynch, The Last Bordello is an absurd and fiendish labyrinth that’s more suspenseful and provocative with every wrong turn.

Produced by Fire Exit in co-production with Tron Theatre.

Premiering at Tron Theatre, Glasgow and touring to The Traverse, Edinburgh.

Full info, dates and tickets to follow